Friday, February 28, 2014

NEW GARDEN HELPER

With the upcoming delivery of soil today and mulch (possibly next week, depending on weather) for the garden, we needed a new wheelbarrow of some sort.  I have the awesome trailer for the Zen Machine that I got last year but A) it's more for hauling and pulling heavy loads, B) you can't use it stand alone, and most importantly, C) it won't fit through the garden gate.

So I've been looking for something that would be just right and I think I found something that will work.  It's this:

Rubbermaid Garden Cart
I got it at Home Depot last weekend for a great deal; it was on sale, plus I had a coupon for 15% off any single item!  Now, they do sell it at Amazon of course, for more than I paid, but if you are so inclined, or what to read more about it, the link is here: Rubbermaid Big Wheel Dump Truck

Rubbermaid Big Wheel Farm Cart
And look!  It fits right through the gate!  This is very important, because I'll be hauling in the soil for the new beds and then shortly thereafter, a huge load of mulch to put down around the beds.  There is only one easy way to get it inside the garden and that's with something like this.  It holds 7.5 cu feet, has a 300 lb weight capacity, and best of all, for our 'thorny environment', it has flat free tires that won't puncture.

Let the hauling begin!

And that will begin today, as you read this I am at the farm awaiting a delivery of 5 cubic yards of soil for the raised beds.  It will be put to good use.
More later today!


FELINE FRIDAY

Snooze buttons on cats?
Having cats, it didn't take us long to notice that when the alarm clock goes off in the morning, there they are...looking at you.  Then we hit snooze on the alarm clock.  The alarm goes quiet, but they don't.  The alarm goes off and they are still sitting there.  Staring.  Meowing.  Alarm clock snooze again.  More meowing.  Then they follow you around, looking up, pleading...and then we relent and give in.  Breakfast is served your majesty...

More later today!



Thursday, February 27, 2014

HOW MUCH MULCH

In lieu of today's "Inspiration Thursday", I have a quick question for our gardening friends so I can place an order tomorrow...

Raised beds
Soil is being delivered soon (yay) so that we can fill up the new raised beds I recently built.  We figured it was easier to do that before the mulch is in and I have to push loads of dirt through the garden and possibly spilling it into the nice clean (for now anyway, ha) new mulch.

But that brings me to the question:
I’m trying to determine how much mulch to order.  I know how many square feet I will need of course, but to get the cubic yard amount to have it delivered, I need to decide on a depth.  Now, you all know I have the landscapers weed block fabric down, and it’s a fenced in area full of raised beds.  I've read in various places that anywhere between 1 and 4 inches is average.

4" seemed WAY too deep, so I originally calculated 3”.  But looking at the raised beds picture, that seems kind of deep to me when I realize the beds are 12 inches high.  That’s a quarter of the way up the sides of each bed.

1" seems too shallow to me on the flip side, so in the end, I am leaning toward thinking maybe about 2” deep would be good?

For those that have put mulch in a similar area, how deep would you recommend?  I realize that after a season or two, I’ll be adding/refreshing/etc, but I just wonder how much is enough vs being too much and/or wasteful?


Thank you in advance!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

WONDERFUL THRIFT STORE FIND



I stopped, on a whim, into one of the thrift stores I go to frequently and found this.  It's an awesome counted cross stitch (thanks Ellen in Oregon!) that is obviously old and has been around for awhile.




It's very detailed and has lovely flowers and leaves stitched all over it.  The pink roses drew me to it because I knew it would go great in the guest room at the farm.




Then it has the sweetest phrase on it: "To love and be loved is the greatest joy on earth".  A very nice sentiment for everyone.


Here it is in all its beauty (IMHO, ha).

The surprising thing is it is pretty large.  About 16x20.  Oh sure, there are some tiny stains on it, and it's faded a bit with age, but then I got to thinking about who might have made it.  Someone's Mother or Grandmother or heck, Great Grandmother?  Maybe as a wedding gift, or an anniversary gift or a birthday gift?  Someone obviously made it with love, framed it with love and gave it with love.  But somehow, it's now ended up in a thrift store, to be sold off or sent to the dumpster.  I just couldn't let that happen. 



I took it out there this weekend and hung it up.  It fit the flower theme in the guest room perfectly!  So it will be ours from now on.  Perhaps someday it will again end up in a thrift store and maybe the cycle with be repeated.

Everything old is new again!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

RANDOM FAVORITE MEAL PICTURE


Here is just a quick picture of one of my favorite meals.  It's simple and the flavors just go together so well.  Not to mention it's kind of a looker!

Pork loin, peas and roasted sweet potatoes
 It's a roasted pork loin that we serve with butter cooked peas and mashed sweet potatoes with garlic.  It's so good and one of my absolute faves.

Oh and a glass (or two) of wine is always a good accompaniment.

Herbs de Provence roasted pork loin
This is the pork loin.
We cover it with Herbs de Provence and then roast it in the oven.  We make sure we use the blend that contains lavender as some blends don't have it and it makes such a nice flavor with the pork.  Yum.  Now I'm hungry.


Monday, February 24, 2014

BURYING HOSE FOR IRRIGATION TO RAISED BEDS

So this was the most recent project.  We had no water in the garden area.  This is what I had to do...dig a trench about 125 feet long, from the house, where the water is, to the garden, where it isn't...


I opted for hose for this project.  Some might wonder why I didn't use PVC pipe?  I thought about it, but I haven't worked with it before and it had to have several curves in it.  Also, at each end, it would have required hooking it up to faucets with the accompanying plumbing connections, which again, I haven't ever done before.  So I basically just opted for easier (in my opinion) and quicker so as to get the water to the garden as fast and reliably as possible.

As you can see below, I didn't just buy regular hose though, I got a larger diameter hose (this is 3/4") to allow for more water flow.  It is also made for heavy duty applications and can actually be buried for use in sprinkler systems.  I figured that would work just fine for us and it did.



I bought this tool and a trenching shovel.  As it turns out, this was the better choice.  Apologies for the blurry photo, it focused on the background and not the foreground.  I'm still getting used to my new camera, ha.


What I did was just push it into the ground (which was, fortunately, soft from recent rains) and I just rocked it back and forth and pushed up on the opposite side and it made a trench!  It was pretty easy actually.




After a couple of hours, I had gone the entire 125 feet from the garden to the house. I did the entire trench first, then started at the source water faucet and went back toward the garden with the hose.  Afterwards, I covered the trench with soil to let the grass grow over it.  We figure that the trench is there now so if we want to put in pvc later on, we just pull up the hose and half the hard work has already been done.

Then came the test.  As you can see, I put in this Free Standing Hose Stand (got mine at Home Depot, less expensive, but above is link for Amazon).  It goes into the ground and you hook up the supply hose at the back and then the front acts as a regular hose faucet. It was the moment of truth..and yes, we did actually have tremendous water pressure!  I didn't notice any loss of pressure, it's the same as it is at the house end.  It's wonderful, we now have running water in the garden! Yay!

Lastly, I added this four outlet valve manifold.  We opted for the brass version for long term durability.  I can connect an array of hoses for the various raised beds now.  Of course, for this first season, I will probably only use one since we are limiting the veggies to a few beds.  Better to plan ahead for the future.

Next I am having soil delivered (hopefully this week), then mulch (hopefully next weekend), then I have to hook up the drip irrigation to the beds we are planting.  I say hopefully because we have some rain in the forecast this week...

Update:  I've had a couple of comments that reminded me I didn't address everything I should have.  The trench is dug to about 4 inches deep, which is shallow. Of course here, we don't have the hard ground freezing other parts of the country might in Winter so I won't ever really have to worry about that.  And secondly, I do have a timer that I purchased last year that will go on here so that I can make sure the water comes on and off as needed.  :-)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

GROW MORE SUGAR BEETS, VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY

Grow More Sugar Beets, vintage poster image courtesy of US National Archives
A couple of months ago, I posted an image of A SIMILAR POSTER urging people during the war to grow more sugar beets.  It would help, as the poster shows. to meet the wartime need for sugar.  Sugar beet is a vegetable that is very high in sugar, upwards of 20%.

They are still cultivated today, providing about a 1/5 of the worlds production of sugar.  I'm not sure if they are as 'big' as the one portrayed in this poster image, but it's a pretty neat one to say the least.

Today is raining, we have already had a 1/4" of rain this morning.  We need the rain of course, but it cuts the day out as far as doing stuff outside.  Fortunately, I was at the farm yesterday, getting a bit more done.  Today, 2nd Man heads back out of town again.

We are also NASCAR fans (I know, weird huh?) and of course today is the Daytona 500 so we are looking forward to that.

UPDATE:  And so far, IT'S delayed!

UPDATE 2:  And now, they are starting it again!


Hope you are having a good weekend!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

COME SIT ON THE PORCH FOR A BIT

Come, sit a spell on the porch with us...

It might be the middle of "Polar Vortex" season, er, Winter, but let's time travel back to some warmer weather pictures to remind us of those warmer days.
I was sitting in the rocker, enjoying the breeze one Fall day, when I decided to take some pictures from where I was sitting to share the view...


This is the view turning to the right and looking at one end of the porch and the mudroom door...


Then here it is, looking off the porch in the same general direction.  A little bit beyond that clump of trees is where the future barn and chicken area will be...


This is looking straight ahead from where I was sitting toward the driveway and beyond the tree (that I now notice needs to be trimmed now that Spring is around the corner, ha) is 2nd Family's back pasture...


This is turning to the left somewhat, where you can see the garden area (and our usual parking spot).  You can also see the edge of the front porch stairs...


And then this is looking completely to the left, total opposite of the first picture, in the direction of the other end of the porch and the side set of stairs leading toward Barnabas.  The front door to the foyer area is to the left, just out of the view of the picture.

Thanks for stopping by!
Come back soon!




Friday, February 21, 2014

FELINE FRIDAY

Hobart, the hypnotizing cat
This is Hobart, staring me down. He spends a lot of his time, when he's not sleeping of course, watching us.  We call him "The Watcher".  We figure that he's either a) trying really hard to influence our decisions, or b) he's watching to see how to do things so that he can eventually take over.

You ever have one of those pets that just stares at you?

More later this afternoon!




Thursday, February 20, 2014

FLOWERS AROUND THE FENCE, INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Flowers around the fence, image courtesy of Southernliving.com
Now that we have the fence around the garden, once I get the rest of the garden up and running, I'd like to do something like this.  I saw this picture a couple of years ago and saved it.  Now we have a fence to do this with!

While we love the stone border, I'm not sure how practical that would be right now.  We'd need lots of stones and they would have to come from some outside source because there is nowhere on the property that has stones like that.

Perhaps someday, but in the near term, I think I'd like to put some flowers like this around the fence, annuals such as marigolds (which grow like crazy here) some roses and a few perennials scattered amongst them. 

Be inspired!


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

FRITO PIE RECIPE

OK, this is not really a recipe per se, more like sharing something unusual that is truly a Southern dish.  Southwestern too.  We have it on occasion when we want to do something that's easy, it's cold outside, and we just feel like throwing caution to the wind, ha.

It is called "Frito Pie".  What?  Never heard of it?  CLICK HERE for the Wiki entry all about it.  No one knows the true origin but the 'recipe' always consists of at least Fritos, chili and cheese.  Anything else you want to add is entirely optional.  I myself grew up eating it just like this.  2nd Man grew up eating it at his brother's sports games where it was served IN a small bag of Fritos!  It can even be baked like a casserole.  This though, is how we enjoy it most.  Sure you can go all fancy and make your own chili, and we have done that on occasion but really, after a long day at work, and a cold drive home, nothing is easier than opening a can of your favorite chili and throwing this together.

These are the four basic ingredients we use:

 1 large bag of Fritos
1 can of chili (your favorite)
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 onion

Heat the chili in a pan.
Shred the cheese.
Dice the onion.
Open the bag of Fritos.


Take a bowl, put as many fritos in the bottom as you'd like, then pour some hot chili on top, and sprinkle on some onions and cheese.  Again, no set amount, just whatever amount you like (or how hungry you are).
Frito Pie
This is what it looks like when you're done assembling it.  The cheese starts to melt and you just dig in with a spoon.  Other options are sour cream, jalapeƱos  chives, bacon, whatever you want to do.  Is it good for you?  Probably not.
Is it delicious and satisfying?  Absolutely.

Try it, you might just like this bit of Americana!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

DIPPIN DOTS SNOW IN TEXAS


I figured I better post this before it's in the 80's and 90's, ha.  Plus I thought those of you in the North and East might get a kick out of our 'snow'.  So the other morning, on one of our 'warned' days of freezing weather, most of Houston woke up to this.  Odd, little, white balls of Winter stuff.  Snow?  Sleet?  Hail?  Dippin Dots? (more on that later).  No, this is something called "GRAUPEL".  What?  I know, us too, we've never heard of that.

What the heck is graupel?
It's apparently a Winter precipitation phenomenon that occurs when supercooled droplets of water collect and freeze ON a snowflake.  Who knew?

Graupel closeup
Tiny little white balls of hardened snow.
It was actually kind of neat to see.

Graupel in Houston
As you can see above, when they started collect in one spot, it did look more like an odd type of snow...or maybe it looks like...

Dippin' Dots Ice Cream, image courtesy of www.dippindots.com
...Dippin' Dots!!  If only it would do this next time!  For those who haven't ever seen it, Dippin' Dots is a wonderfully fun ice cream that is often called the "ice cream of the future".  It's flash frozen in liquid nitrogen which creates these little balls of ice cream that just melt in your mouth.

Still it was the first time in all the years I've lived here that I've seen 'graupel'.  Don't get me wrong, we have had lots of ice and sleet and some teen temps already this Winter, but this stuff is a first for us.

Learn something new every day huh?


Monday, February 17, 2014

HOMEMADE DIY DIBBER AND A SURPRISE

What is this?
Some might call it a "necessity is the mother of invention" moment.
I might be more inclined to call it an "oh crap, I can't find what I need" moment.

Homemade dibber type garden tool
I used to have one of those tools for the raised beds that are called "dibbers", which is basically a pointed stick that you use for making holes in soil to plant bulbs, seeds, seedlings, etc.

When I was getting ready to put my garlic and shallots in late last year, I couldn't find my dibber.  Curses!  I think it got thrown away accidentally when I was clueing out some boxes in town.  I dug around in a kitchen drawer and found a rubber wine bottle cork we had saved for some odd reason, and a long wooden skewer from a package of skewers.  I figured they might do the job.








I pushed the skewer into the cork and it was done.  At first, I was going to use it like this by just using the skewer to push the cork down into the soil, thereby making a large hole...





...but I actually ended up using it like this.  I used the cork as a sort of handle, and stuck the skewer into the dirt.  Then I just wiggled it around and around in a widening circular motion until it created an inverted, cone shaped hole to plant in.  Sometimes, you just have to do what works, ha.


English made Dibber
So flash forward to Valentine's Day.  2nd Man surprised me with this.  It's a large dibber, handmade in England.  It's pretty neat, has a brass tip, and metal depth rings along the length.  Even a handy little leather strap to hang it with.  It's almost too pretty to use.  But I guess it's better than my homemade version, though I might keep that around just in case.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

KITTEN

NO, not ours, but we'll still get to have access to her anytime we want.  

So I was at the farm this weekend and I get a message from 2nd Family (they live on property at the front of ours).  She says "oh oh, guess what we found?".

So of course I had to run to their house and see...


Behold...CLOVER the kitten!   She was stuck in some brush near their house.  They looked for a mama kitty but they couldn't find her.  Poor thing cried for two hours while they cut away brush to get to her.

Kitten playing under table
Once they did, now she's home, finding the dining table in their house to be the most perfect jungle gym for exercising.

Clover, the world's cutest kitten
She's probably also wondering about this crazy man down on the floor crawling around making goofy noises, with sudden flashes of light coming from some strange machine.  Is this not THE most adorable face ever?  Sigh.

In spite of this adorable addition to their family, I was able to go back up to the house and get some actual stuff done.  More on that in upcoming posts.

Hope your weekend was wonderful and filled with kittens, er, good times.

TURN THAT GAS DOWN, VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY

Turn That Gas Down, vintage WWII poster, image courtesy of Britain's Imperial War museum
With more than 60% of the country still covered in snow this weekend, here's a great poster from WWII Britain that reminded everyone to "Turn That Gas Down".  Energy savings for the war effort of course.  Pretty neat poster actually.  That image actually makes me want a nice cup of hot tea right now, ha.  Is it OK to turn the gas up for JUST a moment?

Hope you are having a good weekend, yesterday was a shopping day for the irrigation supplies and today as you read this, I'm at the farm digging a trench, a long trench, if all goes according to plan of course. 

More later!


Saturday, February 15, 2014

AN OPEN LETTER FROM LEHMAN'S PRESIDENT

https://www.lehmans.com
Recently, I blogged about Lehman's Non Electric being, other than seed catalogs, our favorite catalog to receive.  In the comments section of my post, several of you brought up concerns about "made in China" products.  I know that often, people don't go back and read comments later on.  In this case, there was a later comment made by one Galen LEHMAN, president of Lehman's.

Because I felt his response was important, I asked him if I could use his note as its own blog post and he graciously allowed.


"Thanks for your great story! I appreciate your kind words. The next time you visit, let me know. I'd love to meet you!


I would like to respond to the concerns that were raised about products imported from China. We are committed to selling USA made products where ever possible. We have a written policy on this and it is very simple. We will never displace any USA manufacturer with goods from another country. The only exception is when we find higher quality products somewhere else, a carefully considered move which we make because we believe that's what most customers want. Occasionally, if the price difference is significant, we may carry both the USA version and the imported version and allow our customers to choose.


When our staff says, "We would buy in the U. S., if we could," they are telling the truth. Sadly, in many cases, there are wide swaths of industry that no longer exist in the USA. For example, when was the last time you saw a USA-made stainless steel teakettle? Our promise is this: If you know of a USA made version of any imported item we carry, let us know and we will start selling it.

To see some of the blog posts I've written about our struggles getting USA made products, and about the ethics and outcomes of buying in China, visit http://CountryLife.Lehmans.com and use the search term "China" or cut and paste this URL into your browser: 

http://countrylife.lehmans.com/?s=china&submit=Search

Thanks again for visiting our store!  Contact me any time.

Galen Lehman, Proprietor, www.lehmans.com"


In this day and age of Presidents/CEOs of large companies that are seemingly out of touch with those who shop/use their products, we find it totally refreshing that one took the time to read and understand concerns some of us had and then addressed them head on in an actual comment.

Thank you Mr. Lehman.  We will look forward to meeting you one day!
Until then, your catalog will continue to be our wish list book for the farm.


Friday, February 14, 2014

VALENTINES DAY WISHES

Vintage Valentine's Day postcard image
2nd Man...

Thank you for our wonderful life.

Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for helping make the farm dreams come true.

Happy Valentines Day!


And of course, Valentines wishes from both of us to all of you, thank you for your online friendship.